SMWS's October outturn showcases around 38 new bottles... maybe they can start doing advent calendars purely from a single outturn? With so many new bottles on display, we're coining the term "Man vs. Drams" as it was a challenge getting through all of these in one sitting. We’ve had the opportunity to try 33 of the bottles in this months outturn. Unfortunately, the 19 and 113 were not in venue during the preview, but we'll try to add them to the review if we get a chance to taste them in the future. Check out our social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) to get updates on these bottles!
We’re writing this without knowledge of the society’s theme for the month, but we’ll take a guess at "Celebration of the Bourbon Cask". We’re personally calling this “clearing out the cupboard before Christmas” month. There’s an impressive number of young bourbon casks in this months outturn. As we struggled through them, we couldn’t help but wish some of these were left in the cask until they were old enough to drive.
We say struggle, but being honest most of the bottles are just uninteresting this month. Maybe we're spoiled by the range of whiskies available to us, both from SMWS and other independant bottlers?
We did however find a few gems and a few disappointments. Read on for full details.
Our Top Sips are the bottles that we thought stood out amongst the rest. We would highly recommend you at least sample these drams if possible. Note that these are in no particular order.
59.66 - Tenaninch Distillery
This has strawberry mousse, fresh cream and buttercream frosting. The sugary sweetness on the palate balances really well with the spirit. Standout young bourbon cask of this outturn.
112.97 - Inchmurrin Distillery
Nose has marshmallows and sweet creme patissiere. Palate has deep sugary oak, milk bread, and fresh lime. We’re surprised to see this listed under spicy and dry, we’d have placed it under juicy, oak and vanilla. Cracking price too, as most society 112's are.
46.118 - Glenlossie Distillery
On the nose we’re getting creme brûlée, vanilla custard, and sherbet. The palate has a lovely depth of flavour which is really well integrated with the alcohol. To us this is chocolate coated vanilla bon bons, and a caramac bar. The finish here is medium length. A bit pricey at ~£200 but it’s good quality whisky. Given the general lack of love for Glenlossie we’re going to wait and see if this goes on sale.
10.211 - Bunnahabain Distillery
Unpeated Bunnah! Wet stone, leathery book bindings, candlewax, brown bread with cured meats - ham rather than bacon as there's no smoke there. Fresh and vibrant on the nose. Treacle, lemon peel, a touch of lavendar and cinnamon coated roasted pineapple. A little fenugreek too. Unexpected and delightful. Again, we think this is not in the right flavour profile - but we're not sure where we'd put it otherwise, maybe sweet and spicy?
Middle of the Road
Given the size of this outturn we’re going to break our middle of the road whiskies down into sections. The next couple of whiskies fell a little short of being recommended purchases, but they’re in no way bad, just not as good as our “Top Sips”. So if the notes we've written sound like something up your street then one of these maybe a perfect purchase for you.
53.387 - Caol Ila Distillery
Nosing this we’re getting beef burger with sweet relish, cheese balls, a good amount of peat smoke, and antiseptic. Some ash and sweet honey roast ham on the palate. This is the better of the two Caol Ila releases this month.
108.42 - Allt-a-Bhainne Distillery
When we nose this we’re getting Honey, orange, butter, freshly cut wood, with a slight smoke note in the background. palate has fresh strawberry, basil and cream. Quite well balanced and pleasant finish.
122.44 - Croftengea Distillery
This smells like Auchentoshan, it’s very fruity and sugary. Nose is very light, but very heavy on the palate with lots of tropical fruits like pineapple and mango. A good Croftengea.
26.187 - Clynelish Distillery
Fruit forward, blackberries, rosemary, some spice... more spice than the expected, a touch of waxiness. There's also some grapefruit and orange, fresh and zingy. We think this would have matured into something incredible if it had been left longer in the cask but it’s pretty good as is.
Ok, we’re now moving onto the bottles where we doubt anybody would be sad about having a dram or two, but wouldn’t recommend buying a bottle.
35.295 - Glen Moray Distillery
A slight rye note, chocolate dipped raspberries, honey bread, sour cherry bakewell. Hot, spicy and dry on the palate initially. Liquorice root and cinnamon. One to leave in the glass a while. Water brings apple strudel and croissant with apricot jam. It's a lot different than what we expected, having had a few of the older toasted oak 35's - this is better on the nose than on the palate.
We tried it again after a while in the glass and it mellowed out incredibly well, still a touch aggressive on the palate but much more restrained than the initial taste.
4.290 - Highland Park Distillery
On the nose there's some light peat, dirt and varnished wood. To be honest the nose is actually quite muted. Alcohol is present on the palate, with some nice sweet refined sugar and some charred grilled meat. Much better than last months Highland Park, at 57 quid it’s not bad at all. Full disclosure we don’t normally gravitate toward young Highland Park, and as such this is definitely one other people may rate much higher. It'll probably sell out instantly anyway!
12.61 - Benriach Distillery
Biscuits and marshmallow on the nose. Cider apples, buttered bread, alcohol tingle, some pepper, and a touch of oak on the palate. Simple young whisky, not offensive and relatively pleasant.
37.135 - Cragganmore Distillery
Punch of raisin, nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon - stereotypical sherry cask. Ginger and sultanas on the palate, still quite alcohol forward and not too sweet - more warm spices. It’s fine but we wouldn’t pay £92.60 for it.
53.384 - Caol Ila Distillery
Nose is peat forward with brine, kippers, dusty warehouse, and bacon. Honey coated pork fillet charred on a bbq on the palate. Good quality Caol Ila, more savoury than sweet, but alas a little short of the other 53 released this month.
63.80 - Glentauchers Distillery
This is quite woody. We’re also getting orange peel, white pepper and Christmas spices. Promising on the nose but falls through to the palate with syrupy burnt sugar, Fentmans cola, bitter oak, and some more Christmas memories. Very impressed for the age and price, but you have to be fine with a bitter dry finish.
66.205 - Ardmore Distillery
Haystacks, highland peat, and farmyard funk. There’s a touch of salinity, and a lot of bonfire smoke, well integrated alcohol in the palate but a touch rough on the nose. We’d rather have one of the 53s.
68.67 - Blair Athol Distillery
Brioche burger buns, fresh lemon, and orchard leaves on the nose. Palate is a lot meatier, Bisto gravy, cherry liqueur, and vegetal forest floor. Dry medium length finish. Not bad at all, good price too.
From here on out we’d consider the below drams as passable, but wouldn’t suggest you seek these out.
3.333 - Bowmore Distillery
Heavy peat on the nose, wouldn’t have expected this from a Bowmore, this is closer to Bunnahabain. Touch acrid on the nose with some sandpaper and salted caramel. Toasted brown bread and rubber on the palate. Not a fan of the finish on this, it’s short and bitter with lingering peat smoke. Not the best Bowmore we’ve had from SMWS, we’d have liked some more sweetness and balance.
5.88 - Auchentoshan Distillery
Nail varnish, cream, and leather on the nose. Quite spicy but with a nice underlying sweetness on the palate. Overall a bit too spicy for us.
9.221 - Glen Grant Distillery
Sweet yeast, light fruity notes in the background. Some unripe orange and grapefruit on the palate, rough alcohol punch initially as well. Needs a few more years in the barrel to mellow out.
39.266 - Linkwood Distillery
Sweet apples and pears, fresh cut grass, tiny hint of peat, indiscernible if you didn’t know it was finished in a peated cask. Chili spice, some sea salt. This is ok, maybe a different cask finish would have helped this, but we don’t think the peat has impacted it enough.
48.135 - Balmenach Distillery
Ginger biscuit dipped in whipped cream, touch of rhubarb, some brown sugar and crystallised ginger with a peppery finish. A little boring, this would have benefited from a cask finish. Anyone remember 48.104 Punnets of pink?
58.46 - Strathisla Distillery
To us this is best described as chocolate and ginger snaps. Another one that has left the cask too soon. Not bad but nothing standout. Couldn’t they have just left it til double digits?
94.16 - Fettercairn Distillery
On the nose we’re getting burnt hazelnut, caramel, and salted peanuts. Palate brings more roasted nuts, that’s pretty much all that’s going on. This would work well alongside a bar snack.
100.26 - Strathmill Distillery
Spicy oak, currants, ethanol, little rancio, very fruity on the palate, syrupy and mouth coating. Dry wood and dust on the finish. You’ll be a fan of this if you like your Spanish oak sherry casks, but for us this has too much spice.
115.25 - Knockdhu Distillery
Sweetened rose wine, charred wood, artificial strawberry sweeties, alcohol punch on the palate. Little thin overall but pleasant enough, we just won’t remember it next week.
93.170 - Glen Scotia Distillery
Salty, cheesy, funky, woody, tobacco leaves, bitter resin, double cream, peppercorn sauce, briney green olives, toothpaste, lime. Had a really nice nose but the palate is a bit all over the place.
If you really need to have a whisky and these are your only choices then go ahead they’re not terrible, but we’re personally having a beer instead.
135.36 - Inchmoan Distillery
Smells like rum. Really powerful aromas of ginger spice. There’s also some sweet vanilla sitting in the background. Palate has a muted rum flavour, touch of brown sugar. Overall a bit weird, probably good if you’re a big Spanish style rum fan, but we find this disappointing.
1.248 - Glenfarclas Distillery
Jelly babies, apples, quite acidic, the age really shines through on the palate - young with punchy alcohol. There’s some fresh lemon juice and a slight vegetal note that lingers on the palate as well. Too young for us, and for us this is another one that needed some more time in the cask to mellow.
6.54 - Macduff Distillery
Custard creams, boiled sweets, rock candy, yeasty, sugar water on the palate, thin and forgettable. We’re going to need a few weeks off bourbon cask whiskies after this outturn.
73.122 - Aultmore Distillery
Yeast, ginger cake, icing sugar, chili spice, no coconut to be found. Thin mouthfeel with a medium length, uneventful finish. Insert your own synonym for uninspiring.
78.51 - Ben Nevis Distillery
Can’t get past the fake sweet shop synthetic sugar on the nose. Similarly the bitter dry oak hit on the palate overpowers any sweeter notes. There’s also a little white sandwich bread, but we’re still coming back to the bitter note.
80.24 - Glen Spey Distillery
Sour apple, nail polish, rough ethanol, touch of irn bru, caster sugar, medium length oaky finish. If we’ve ever said anything negative about a finish before we’d like to apologise. Finishing some more of these would really have given this outturn a dose of much need variety.
88.25 - Speyburn Distillery
Spun sugar, lightly toasted caramel, strawberry milkshake, dark chocolate on the finish. Another dram that’s uninteresting and uninspired.
Bottom of the Barrel
Our Bottom of the Barrel picks are bottlings we really didn't enjoy. That's not to say that these are bad whiskies, they're just not to our taste, and had we tried one of these as our first ever whiskies we’d probably be gin drinkers.
96.37 - Glendronach Distillery
(Sorry, no picture for this one, but it's a 12 year old 1st fill bourbon barrel at 64.3% ABV)
Granny Smith apple slices dipped in salty sea water, deeply toasted oak, charred wood (but not smokey, just the bitterness), disappointing from a distillery we usually rate highly.
41.144 - Dailuaine Distillery
Rancid, sweaty sock, burnt bolognese sauce, follows through to slightly turned meat, burnt spices. Really not our cup of tea, maybe for a diehard Spanish oak lover.
55.67 - Royal Brackla Distillery
This is beefy, spicy, aggressive, fruity and punchy all at the same time. Some citrus there, but overwhelmed by the Spanish oak. First Royal Brackla we’ve had in sherry from SMWS and it’s stood out, just not in the way the society would want it to.
Thanks for reading. Let us know what you thought of the outturn in the comments below.
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